Remembering Matthew Shepard, A Decade Later
"Ten Years Later, Shepard Case Haunts Reporters." That was the headline of an NPR story this weekend, commemorating the 10th anniversary of gay college student Matthew Shepard's brutal murder with stories from local journalists who reported it. Their words make plain the importance of resources and support for journalists thrust into reporting a communal tragedy.
Heather Feeney, then a reporter for Wyoming Public Radio, traces her later change of career to her inability to square journalistic "objectivity" with her own ethics.
"I wanted to stand up with these people, with my neighbors and my community ... I wanted to hold a candle, too, and say this violence is not who I am. But that wasn't part of the job, and there was no time to figure all of that out."
Kerry Drake, a reporter for the Casper Star-Tribune, found his life and work changed by a man he'd never met.
"It's just something that pervades your whole sense of what's right and what's wrong ... There was part of me that had to think, 'Am I doing this story justice?'"
The Casper Star-Tribune's own coverage this past week has been an exemplary treatment of a tragic anniversary.
Notable articles include:
Six reflections from people connected with the University of Wyoming.
An article on the images that remain in the national consciousness, followed by reflections from reporters who helped disseminate them.
An account of how hate crime legislation has remained unpassed.
A mixed assessment of how the town of Laramie has changed.
And a portrait of two lives touched by Shepard's death, written by the same Kerry Drake quoted in the NPR piece; he's now the Star-Tribune's opinion editor.